Santa’s Workshop takes place today at Potential Development

Santa’s Workshop takes place today at Potential Development

BOARDMAN — Perhaps one of Deloran Muransky Thompson’s most enduring and endearing memories as a student at C.H. Campbell Elementary School was the annual Santa’s Workshop days the Canfield school hosted.

The deepest imprint of those recollections, however, was not so much in what extra gifts she may have received, but in the independence she felt in selecting presents for others — and the surprised responses from recipients that came with the charitable act.

A few decades after leaving school, Muransky Thompson is thrilled to relive and keep alive those memories and see the effects that her efforts will soon generate.

“I have two cousins with autism and they’ve always been prevalent on my mind and in my heart, but I love what Potential Development does; it does so much good, so it’s an easy organization to be part of,” Muransky Thompson, who owns ivory & birch Boutique, 7631 Market St., Boardman, said Wednesday.

Specifically, she has spent nearly a year collecting a slew of gifts for students at Potential Development High School on Youngstown’s South Side, where she also has organized a Santa’s Workshop event for today. This year, though, the gathering has expanded to include Potential Development Elementary and Middle schools.

Today, between 250 and 275 students will have the opportunity to do a bit of Christmas shopping, when each of them will be able to shop for up to three gifts they can give to their parents, siblings, friends — and even their pets.

The event will be from 9 to 11 a.m. at the high school, then will get underway around 11:30 a.m. at the elementary / middle school, Muransky Thompson noted.

The shopping event will be extra special for the students also because many of them are in foster care and don’t have a lot of extra money, she said.

So far, Muransky Thompson has amassed nearly 900 items to be given as gifts, including about 300 from close friend Jenny Kennedy, who founded Project Making Kids Count. Muransky Thompson also serves on the MKC board.

Merchandise she has accumulated since late December 2022 includes Rubik’s Cubes, waffle irons, craft kits, Christmas ornaments, pairs of men’s and women’s socks, soaps and lotions, jewelry, stationery items, toys, puzzles, games, sports tumblers, pet toys and treats, scarves, gloves and coffee cup sets adorned with the Potential Development logo.

An important aspect of viewing those on the autism spectrum is to recognize and appreciate their uniqueness and the gifts they have to offer, Muransky Thompson explained.

“You can’t put children with autism in a box. … There is not a formula,” she said, adding that a primary focus of her 9-year-old business is performing charitable work.

“The Santa’s Workshop Deloran makes possible is really incredibly impactful on our students,” Crissi Jenkins, Potential Development’s chief growth officer, said. “These gifts and opportunities allow them to shop for gifts for their family at no cost to them, and it is a really fun opportunity for them to kick off the holiday season.”

Jenkins also expressed her gratitude to Muransky Thompson not only for spearheading Friday’s Santa’s Workshop but for being a year-round donor and staunch advocate for those on the spectrum.

Potential Development, established in 1953 and originally incorporated as the United Cerebral Palsy Association, provides services to children and young adults on the autism spectrum. In 2013, as the incidence of autism continued to grow, the agency expanded its services to include the high school, which allows students to benefit from life- and work-skills training courses, and then earn their diplomas.

Those interested in assisting with next year’s Santa’s Workshop event are asked to contact Muransky Thompson at info@ivoryandbirch.com.


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